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I am considering upgrading a basement circuit as illustrated to allow the two lights (L1 and L2) to be controlled by a switch (SW) while keeping the outlet O always hot. The current version has no switch and the lights are controlled by pull cords. To do this I’ve split the hot in two by using a 3-wire cable between L1 and L2. Is this NEC-compliant? Seems like it should be ok because the neutral (blue) won’t have any more current than it did before if all devices are on and the whole circuit can still be shut off from a single breaker.

In addition, I plan to replace the outlet O with a GFCI since it is in a basement. Will there be any problem with having a GFCI at the end of the circuit like this?

Thanks so much! enter image description here

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  • Are the lights are already wired with 12awg and a 20 amp breaker, suitable for receptacles? Normally I don't think you're supposed to add outlets to lighting branches. I'm sure an expert will pipe up if that's wrong or sometimes wrong...
    – dandavis
    Feb 2, 2023 at 22:47
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    @dandavis The circuit might be grandfather in as is, but adding the switch plus new cable might cause it be bought up to most recent code. OP is now thinking those pull chains/cords are nice.
    – crip659
    Feb 2, 2023 at 22:55
  • This is where I use battery-powered switches (buttons really, or motion) and smart bulbs/sockets.
    – dandavis
    Feb 2, 2023 at 22:57
  • @dandavis where does the NEC say that 20A / 12 gauge is needed for outlets? I am using a 15A GFCI for the outlet.
    – Michael D
    Feb 5, 2023 at 2:41

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Seems like it should be ok because the neutral (blue) won’t have any more current than it did before if all devices are on and the whole circuit can still be shut off from a single breaker.

That intuition is absolutely correct.

And you understand the switch needs always-hot and switched-hot, but not neutral.

However, you're overlooking NEC 404.2(D) which requires you bring neutral to the switch anyway. Thus, use /3 on the run to the switch. It will be nicely color coded.

Black becomes always-hot.
Red becomes switched-hot.
White is neutral obviously.

Will there be any problem with having a GFCI at the end of the circuit like this?

That is fine. The GFCI does not care where it is, as long as it gets hot and neutral. Ground is optional as far as the GFCI is concerned, however the NEC has required it since about 1960. The ground bypasses the GFCI altogether, and you only wire it to a GFCI receptacle to serve the ground pins on the sockets.

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  • Thank you so much! I will go ahead and upgrade the switch connection to 14/3 then.
    – Michael D
    Feb 5, 2023 at 2:42

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